got in over my head

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VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
Continuation of this: on this detour to Washington, D.C.
After Phoebe leaves, Scully asks Mulder what "three-pipe problem" is. Mulder:
-- That's, uh, from Sherlock Holmes. It's a private joke.
-- How private?
-- Um... we knew each other in school in England. She was brilliant and, uh, I got in over my head and, uh, paid the price.
The X-Files, TV series

Explain and parse please the phrase. What it means, if it contains phrasal verbs:)
Thanks.
 
  • Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    "Got in over my head" is a metaphor for swimming. If you are a poor swimmer you want to swim in shallow water so if you get tired you can just stand up and be safe.

    But if you are a poor swimmer and ended up in deep water you could "be in over my head" and risk drowning.

    The metaphor here is that he was a poor or middling student in a school that required brilliance. So he was (metaphorically) "in over his head".
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Thank you everyone!

    But I still don't understand the point made in the movie. What kind of problem is he talking about? Well, when they'd met, she kissed him on the lips, so looks like they had relationships. Scully watched it. And now, when Mulder said the OP phrase, Scully was surprised and said that he "keeps unfolding like a flower". To which he replied that it was ten years ago. But Scully said it looked now like he dropped everything to help her out.

    So, is it about a romance, or studying (as Packard suggested)?
     

    Sparky Malarky

    Moderator
    English - US
    He got into a situation that he was not equipped to handle. Maybe he is referring to his poor academic performance, or maybe he is referring to getting involved emotionally with this woman. Maybe she was in love with him, but he was not in love with her, but he didn't know how to break it off.

    Without a very great deal more context, I have no idea. You're the one who saw the TV show, not me. It really is not at all clear from the bit quoted here.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    It seems pretty clear to me that it's about a romance, Vic.

    (cross-posted;))
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    It seems pretty clear to me that it's about a romance, Vic.

    (cross-posted;))
    Women think everything is about romance.:D

    It could easily have been academic or financial.

    I've never watched the X-files but I thought it was about science fiction.

    A quick google search shows that Mulder and Scully had a brief romance. So I guess that romance would work too.
     
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